Is OTC More Glamorous Than Filmland Special? Published 16 February 1953That distinguished Evening Citizen columnist, Sydney J. Harris, writes amusingly about the dull people he meets on trains. The way he tells it, he notes how travel literature always depicts glamorous women and distinguished men. Yet when he walks into a train, there are the dullest looking fatheads for men, there are the drabbest witches for women..
In this, Mr. Harris and I are not only fellow columnists, but fellow travellers (let no communist take comfort from this phrase; I am writing in the geographical and not the political sense!)
So often, so very often, I have got on a train, searching for interesting people. A few years ago, I looked forward to a ride on the Golden State Limited. An entrancing name, and an exciting destination, California. I boarded the train at El Paso with high hopes. Alas, in my car were, by actual count, 14 nursing mothers.
* * *
Then, one time I even had a choice. There were two trains due at Cheyenne, Wyoming, at the same time. I was going to ride the train with the more appealing passengers. The flrst was the Pacific Limited; the second was the Continental Limited. I stood, lucky man as I thought, waiting for the first train to come in so I could make my choice. I looked over the Pacific Limited. Of all the dull people . . The second train can't be worse. I said to my self. That's what I thought When I boarded the second limited, I found myself seated between an anemic and pimply girl from Washington and a great cow of a woman from Idaho. I retired early.
But once I did strike what I thought was an ideal train. I got on the Santa Fe streamliner at San Diego, bound tor Los Angeles. All the men looked distinguished in their carefully cut clothes. The women were not without their quota of blondes, they showed plenty above the hem line, they were sprightly, easy to talk to. There was warmth in their laughter, there was lilt In their conversation.
"What a train this is," I exclaimed to my fellow passenger.
"Yes" he replied, acidly, "All the Hollywood phonies are down on this excursion week-end.
"Their complexions are from cut rate drug stores, their clothes may even be rented"
Then emboldened, I asked my companion what he did:
"I illustrate children's books," he replied.
Nowadays, when I want to meet distinguished people, I ride the Bank Street cars.